Looking Good Past 50 Is Torture

IMG_0568 Photo: Ileana Johnson 2013
There comes a point in life when comfort is more important than looking good, when wrinkles don’t matter as long as the clothes are clean, and focusing on someone’s stained shirt is like a Rorschach test. After the age of 50 we’ve become those people we used to joke about in our ignorant youth—the sans-a-belt, stretchy Hagar-pants wearing old men and women with stretchy Wrangler jeans. We are a bit more sophisticated and fashionable in our elastic comfort, opting for Not-Your-Daughters-Jeans.
Looking good is torture! Wearing stretchy clothes is heaven on textile. Stilettos were invented by men who convinced women, who desired to look like the big screen plastic stars they were never going to be like, that walking on stilts will somehow make them more attractive, svelte, and desirable to men. But our generation of 50 year-olds wear orthopedic shoes with painless joy and secretive pride.
Constantly digging floss out of their rear ends, young and middle-aged women torture themselves and get awful bacterial infections so that their derrieres are more attractive in thongs and clothes show no panty lines just in case someone happens to ogle them.
The t-shirt, flannel shirt, football jersey, sweats, and pajamas become necessary wardrobe implements for someone’s comfort after the age of 50. After all, people born in the 1950s have lived in seven decades and two centuries, we earned the right to fall off the fashion train and adopt the liberal Birkenstock sandals worn proudly with white knee high socks.
Then you can be liberated from the crowded and expensive shopping malls. Good Will becomes quite attractive and cheap, especially in a well-to-do neighborhood where donated clothes are practically new.
It’s good to be over the hill if you want 50 cents discount on meals at McDonalds. On the other hand, who wants to admit they are on the downside of life for 50 cents? You can take naps any time of day without being thought of as lazy and nobody cares what you look like unless you are carrying the remnants of the last meal on your chin or shirt.
You can stop sucking in your stomach around your friends and relatives. They already know you have a gut and nobody is fooled by your pretend svelteness. Besides, your face starts turning blue if you hold your breath in for too long.
Walking and farting in unison with each step becomes a necessary Beano gut cleansing, a sort of yoga without the contortions, the head stand, or the humming.
Going out to dinner after the age of 50 becomes an early bird excursion at four in the afternoon. The restaurants are quiet, the help is awful, but you avoid the balding liberals with their young progeny and trophy wives eating at 9 p.m. and disturbing the entire restaurant. You go to bed by nightfall because you can.
You stop speeding because the road looks perennially foggy but cops ticket you now for going too slow and for forgetting to turn off the turn signal, confusing other drivers. Every other driver, frustrated by your slowness, gives you the finger because you block the faster lane but you wave at them with a silly and toothless grin.
If you want to know about the weather tomorrow, you no longer turn to the weather forecast, you just consult the level of pain in your arthritic joints. And you’ve learned to look at the phases of the moon to tell whether it will rain tomorrow or not.
It’s acceptable now to stay in pajamas all day and even wear them under clothes with a slight peek of flannel from under your high-water pants. People will ask you when they call during the day if they woke you up and nobody will get offended.
You can now tell all your deep, dark , and embarrassing secrets to your friends over lunch because your secrets will be as safe as Fort Knox – nobody will remember a thing after they wake up from the early afternoon nap.
Loud music will no longer be annoying because you can turn down your hearing aid and smile, nodding in agreement with everything.
Go ahead and take those around the world tours you’ve been saving yourself for your entire life. Make sure there are wheelchair ramps and the cobble stone or unpaved roads are wheelchair friendly. Take a good supply of diapers, diarrhea pills, and bribe money. Don’t worry, nobody would want to take you hostage abroad in order to demand ransom! They know your family does not want you back.
And don’t forget your health care insurance card. After all these years of paying high premiums, you are finally beginning to get some returns on your investment. The doctor knows you by your first name and is glad that you are helping pay his child’s expensive liberal tuition at Harvard.
Copyright: Ileana Johnson 2015

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